Insights For Nutritionally Managing Your Dermatological Cases

Written by Robin Saar, RVT, VTS and Katie Dahlhausen, PhD

Published on April 19, 2023

Studies show how inflammation and microbial imbalance in the gastrointestinal tract are associated with symptoms in pets with atopy. Nutrition is closely connected to the composition of the gut microbiome and therefore is an essential tool for supporting pets with allergic conditions.

Nutritional interventions can minimize immune responses and provide additional key nutrients that reduce symptoms of food and environmental allergies.1 With a growing number of options for pet parents to choose from, veterinary teams must understand the dietary choices that are available for pets.

Consider These Diet Options When Managing Pets Experiencing An Allergic Condition

Hydrolyzed Commercial Diets

Hydrolyzed diets undergo processes to chemically break down large, complex protein molecules into smaller peptides or amino acids. The main benefit of hydrolyzed diets is to reduce the size of the molecule that causes food allergic immune responses. These diets are considered the ideal choice for a food elimination diet trial, which is currently the only accurate way to identify a food allergy.

Hydrolyzed diets tend to be highly digestible and produce small amounts of stool. They only are available in a commercial kibble or a canned format through veterinary clinics for cats and dogs. They often have a higher price point due to the additional processing steps necessary to ensure the food has not been cross-contaminated with non-hydrolyzed protein sources.

Novel Protein And Limited Ingredient Diets

Novel protein and limited-ingredient diets contain ingredients that are not normally found in pet food. Novel protein diets may be used in pets with suspected or diagnosed food allergies to avoid protein sources that are the source of the current allergy. The original novel protein diet was lamb and rice, followed by kangaroo. Now, these diets may contain bison, alligator, venison, insects, and plant-based proteins such as quinoa, chickpeas, and other grain sources.

Limited-ingredient diets are formulated to restrict the number of macronutrient ingredients. These diets are often combined with novel protein diets, though they can exist independently as well.

Dermatological-Focused Diets

Dermatological-focused diets are a common option for atopic pets. They tend to focus on novel protein sources and include additional supportive nutrients like antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and a closer omega-6:omega-3 ratio. The goal of these diets is to ease GI and skin inflammation by decreasing inflammatory responses and supporting proper immune function.

Figure 1. Relative abundances of gut microbiota before and after completion of 28 day Gut Restore FMT capsule treatment and clinical pictures included (Adapted from Ural et al., 2021)

Support Atopic Animals With Biotic Supplements

There is an established connection between skin health and the status of the gut microbiome (Figure 1).1 The gut microbiome is a dynamic ecosystem that is susceptible to restorative interventions like prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Advancements in microbiome medicine have highlighted the use of biotic supplements to treat atopic dermatitis cases in cats and dogs.


Prebiotics are foods that are indigestible by mammalian enzymes and instead fermented by the gut microbiota. Feeding beneficial gut microbes allows them to not only grow and flourish, but also creates metabolites during the fermentation process that have a beneficial effect on other gut microbiota. These compounds can feed intestinal cells, support normal physiological function, and decrease inflammation.2,3

The prebiotic fructooligosaccharides (FOS) is a combination of inulin and an oligosaccharide which is a preferred nutrient of microbes in the healthy reference set of microbiome data from cats and dogs.4 FOS is known to be important for protecting against gut dysbiosis, inflammation, and microbiome-associated disease states.5,6 Both GI Relief and S. boulardii + FOS are AnimalBiome Veterinary products that contain the prebiotic fructooligosaccharide (FOS).


Probiotics are bacteria or yeast that are considered to have beneficial properties including taking up space, utilizing nutrients, and producing beneficial metabolites, among other roles. Through these mechanisms, probiotics can decrease or prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria, improve immune response, and reduce inflammation.

There are many issues with bacteria-based probiotics, even when they do their stated job. One study in humans and mice showed that probiotics given post-antimicrobial therapy had a slower recovery rate, both symptomatically and in the state of the gut microbiome.7 Animalbiome Veterinary utilizes a well-researched yeast product Saccharomyces boulardii, which provides the benefits and allows the beneficial microbes to flourish.8 


Postbiotics are a food form of metabolites that perform beneficial health functions. AnimalBiome utilizes EpiCor®, a postbiotic derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentate, decreases the immune response and supports pets experiencing an inflammatory condition.9 Additionally, the Skin & Coat product for cats and dogs contains omega-3 fatty acids that provide an anti-inflammatory effect on both the gut and skin epithelial cells of dogs and cats.10,11


Do you have further questions about nutrition for your patient(s) experiencing atopy?

Gain valuable insights into how your patient’s gut health is connected to their condition with a Gut Health Test. Use this link to book a Gut Health Test Consultation to review the recommendations on your patient’s report with Dr. Tonya Cooksey.

Cited Literature

[1] Kerem U. Fecal microbiota transplantation capsule therapy via oral route for combatting atopic dermatitis in dogs. Ankara Üniversitesi Veteriner Fakültesi Dergisi. 2022;69(2):211-219.

[2] Russo E, Giudici F, Fiorindi C, Ficari F, Scaringi S, Amedei A. Immunomodulating Activity and Therapeutic Effects of Short Chain Fatty Acids and Tryptophan Post-biotics in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Front Immunol. 2019;10:2754.

[3] Sun B, Hou L, Yang Y. Effects of altered dietary fiber on the gut Microbiota, short-chain fatty acids and cecum of chickens during different growth periods. Preprints. Published online February 9, 2020. doi:10.20944/preprints202002.0109.v1

[4] Dou Y, Yu X, Luo Y, Chen B, Ma D, Zhu J. Effect of Fructooligosaccharides Supplementation on the Gut Microbiota in Human: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2022;14(16). doi:10.3390/nu14163298

[5] Pengrattanachot N, Thongnak L, Lungkaphin A. The impact of prebiotic fructooligosaccharides on gut dysbiosis and inflammation in obesity and diabetes related kidney disease. Food Funct. 2022;13(11):5925-5945.

[6] Van Hul M, Karnik K, Canene-Adams K, De Souza M, Van den Abbeele P, Marzorati M, et al. Comparison of the effects of soluble corn fiber and fructooligosaccharides on metabolism, inflammation, and gut microbiome of high-fat diet-fed mice. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2020;319(4):E779-E791.

[7] Suez J, Zmora N, Zilberman-Schapira G, Mor U, Dori-Bachash M, Bashiardes S, et al. Post-Antibiotic Gut Mucosal Microbiome Reconstitution Is Impaired by Probiotics and Improved by Autologous FMT. Cell. 2018;174(6):1406-1423.e16.

[8] Lin CY, Alexander C, Steelman AJ, Warzecha CM, de Godoy MRC, Swanson KS. Effects of a Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product on fecal characteristics, nutrient digestibility, fecal fermentative end-products, fecal microbial populations, immune function, and diet palatability in adult dogs1. J Anim Sci. 2019;97(4):1586-1599.

[9] Ross SM. A High-Metabolite Immunogen From Fermented Yeast Extract: Balancing and Strengthening Immune Response. Holist Nurs Pract. 2021;35(3):167-171.

[10] Ajabnoor SM, Thorpe G, Abdelhamid A, Hooper L. Long-term effects of increasing omega-3, omega-6 and total polyunsaturated fats on inflammatory bowel disease and markers of inflammation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Nutr. 2021;60(5):2293-2316.

[11] Sundaram TS, Giromini C, Rebucci R, Baldi A. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Counteract Inflammatory and Oxidative Damage of Non-Transformed Porcine Enterocytes. Animals (Basel). 2020;10(6). doi:10.3390/ani10060956

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